Wednesday, December 31, 2008

personally persimmons

When you get something right, you just know. This season I couldn't get enough persimmons. Didn't matter whether it was fuju or hachiya. Fuju are the round ones shaped like a tiny orange pumpkin. You buy these while they are firm to the touch. As you can see I even used them in a Persimmon Upside-Down Cake. Peel them, slice them and use them in salads too. I love the sweet crunch. Hachiya couldn't be more opposite. They're more elongated with kind of a point at the bottom. If you eat them when they are still firm and crunchy, you'll die! Well not really but it won't be the best sensation. You buy these when they're really ripe and feel like jelly. Then they are sweet and best used in a persimmon pudding. But I feel awful telling you this because both the hachiya and the fuju are almost out of season. Before they are going, going, gone, you HAVE to make this salad. Easy as pie and totally delicious.

Green Bean, Persimmon and Hazelnut Salad

1 pound green beans
1 Fuju persimmon, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cup hazelnuts, toasted and peeled
1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook until tender yet crisp, 4 to 7 minutes. Drain and run under cold water. Add the persimmons and hazelnuts.

In another small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the vinaigrette over the green beans and persimmons and toss together carefully.

Serves 4 to 6

Monday, December 1, 2008

persimmon this

I love my job.... What's not to love? I can go out to dinner every night and justify it, it's my job! I can drink wine every night and justify it, it my job!
Did I mention that my new favorite place to eat is Ad Hoc in downtown Yountville. It's kind of like eating at Chez Panisse Downstairs (which is where I am eating tonight... I am so excited!) You don't really have choices and the food is so fresh, flavorful and simple. Totally my kind of dinner. Probably the only difference between Chez and Ad is that Ad Hoc dinner is pretty much served family style. You have to like that kind of thing.
I ate there Friday night. One word... Delicious! The first course was a soup of creamy chickpeas and black cabbage. This is the same cabbage grown in Tuscany and used to make ribollita. They call it cavolo nero.
The meatiest short ribs followed. They were served with the creamiest puree of roasted butternut squash and potatoes. On the top were crispy shallot rings without a trace of oil. And then dessert was not-too-sweet upside-down Fuju persimmon cakes topped with homemade vanilla ice cream.
It made me think about the delicious recipe I have for upside-down cake and I thought, why not persimmons.


16 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 pound fresh Fuju persimmons, peeled, halved and pitted
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
3 eggs
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole milk
Pinch of cream of tartar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Butter a 9-inch cake pan. Place the pan over medium heat and melt 4 tablespoons of the butter and brown sugar in the bottom of the pan. Overlap the persimmon slices on top of the melted butter and brown sugar.

Preheat the oven to 350°f . For the cake, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Cream the remaining 12 tablespoons butter and granulated white sugar together in a bowl until light. Separate the eggs and add the yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 1 teaspoon of the vanilla and mix well. Add the milk and the dry ingredients alternately to the batter, folding well after each addition. Beat the egg whites to form soft peaks. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Fold the whites into the cake batter. Spread the batter over the persimmons and bake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 60 to 75 minutes.

Cool the cake for 10 to 15 minutes and run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen it. Turn the cake over onto a serving platter and let it sit another 5 minutes. Remove the pan.

To serve, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks are formed. Sift the confectioners’ sugar on top of the cream, add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and fold together. Serve with the cake.

Serves 8 to 10

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


So I decided to cook dinner the other night and invite a few friends. Inspired as always by my trips to the Mediterranean (did I tell you I love my job?) I decided to make some breadsticks. Most Americans think of breadsticks as tasteless pencil-thin sticks of toast wrapped in waxy envelopes served at red-and-white-checkered-tablecloth-straw-bottle-drippy-candle-cheesy-Italian-restaurants. You kind of chomp on these starvingly while you wait for the antipasto platter, taken pretty much from a can. Nope, not my breadsticks! When homemade breadsticks are flavored with Parmigiano, a good dose of coarsely cracked black peppercorns and cayenne, and served hot from the oven, trust me - it’s a whole different experience! I served them in a tall glass pitcher with a flood of olio nuovo, the new olive oil of the season, on the bottom. I used McEvoy extra virgin olive oil made right up the road in Marin County. The oil leaves a hint of pepper on the back of the throat, which matched perfectly with the breadsticks, but also that distinctive bitter finish just like in Tuscany. That was just the beginning of the meal but I'll leave the rest to your imagination. Did I tell you I was cooking for Michael Bauer? When he asked me what he could bring, I said was anything but a pad and pencil!

Parmigiano and Black Peppercorn Breadsticks

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups (14 oz/400g) unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 cups (12 fl oz/350ml) lukewarm water, about 110°f (43°c)
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup (4 oz/120g) finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup (2 oz/60g) semolina

In a bowl, stir together the yeast, 1/2 cup of the flour, and 1/2 cup warm water. Let stand until the mixture bubbles and rises slightly, 30 minutes. Add the remaining 3 cups flour, 1 cup warm water, the salt, pepper, cayenne, and olive oil, and stir together to form a ball. Knead on a lightly floured surface, kneading in the Parmigiano gradually, until smooth and elastic, 7 to 10 minutes. Alternately this can be made in an electric mixer on slow speed using the dough hook, kneading for 5 minutes.

Using your hands, shape the dough into an 15- x 5-inch rectangle. Brush with oil, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place, about 75°f, until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

Sprinkle both sides of the dough with the semolina. Cut the dough into 10 equal 1/2-inch strips in the long direction. Cut the dough crosswise into 5 sections. This will make 50 pieces. Pick up each piece of dough and roll and stretch to fit the width of a baking sheet, about 8 to 10 inches long.
Place in a single layer, 1/2 inch apart, on an oiled baking sheet. Bake in the middle shelf of the oven until light golden, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove the breadsticks from the baking sheet and cool on a cooling rack.

Makes 50 breadsticks

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

i have an excuse!

It has been far too long... I promise not to be so remiss again. I have too many excuses. I was one of the chefs for the James Beard Media Awards in NY, I did some events at Aspen Food and Wine, I was teaching for a few weeks in Provence and Tuscany, I shot 26 new TV shows "Joanne Weir's Cooking Class," I tested 60 recipes for my newest book, I did a dinner for the Napa Valley Wine Auction, I went to Mexico to research my newest book, I had a weeklong cooking class in my kitchen where I also shoot my TV show, I celebrated my birthday and just YESTERDAY, I managed to make my book deadline! That's why they call it a deadline! This is true reason for celebration. Bring out the tequila! Not just any tequila, I'd like a Riedel tequila glass topped up with some 7 Leguas D'Antano.
Yes folks, I just finished a book devoted to tequila. It all started years ago when I fell in love... With tequila that is! I started a group called Agave Girls, for women who appreciate tequila. Ay caramba... it took off! Ten Speed Press asked me to write a book about tequila and the rest is history. About 30 food recipes and 40 cocktails from the best bartenders in the country who specialize in tequila. This meant lots of tequila research! It will be released on Cinco de Mayo '09.
Did I tell you that I love my job!? I even made a trip to Guadalajara and checked out the Highlands and Lowlands of Jalisco where 100% blue agave reigns supreme. I visited 7 Leguas and had lunch at with Fernando and Isabel, the owners at their gorgeous hacienda, spent a morning chatting it up with Carlos, owner of El Tesoro and traipsed through the mud at Partida agave fields. And of course, I tasted a lot of great tequila!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

colors of rajasthan

I loved the chaos of Delhi and the beauty of the Taj Mahal but really I think I loved
Rajasthan the most. In the northwest corner of India, smack dab in the middle of the desert, the people compensate for the monochromatic browns of the desert by wearing brilliant colors. The
people are so friendly and nice, they keep saying that my smile is the sign of luck and fortune. I feel it here. We visited a Kumbhalgarh Fort whose walls are the second longest continuous wall in the world after the Great Wall of China. We hiked to the top. We're the only Caucasians and I'm photographing all the Indian women in their colorful saris. One young girl, maybe 18 years old, was particularly beautiful. I asked her if I could take a picture of her. She shook her head yes. Thank God for digital cameras because the payback for shooting a photo is to show them the photo of themselves. I said to her, "You are so beautiful!" and she came back to me with "You are handsome!" We exchanged those same exact words a few more times until I realized those are the only words she knows. More than I know in Indian.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

what the freak is an amla?

Riding along on the bus between Delhi and Agra, the traffic is crazy. Our bus dodges cows, horse-drawn buggies, women in colorful sarees carrying brass urns of water on their head, stray dogs, camel carts piled with hay. You take your life in your hands on the roads of India. This says nothing of the noise. Horns tooting non-stop, back and forth like they are speaking to each other. And what's with the men pissing on the side of the road? I don't get it. No bathrooms? We spotted an outdoor market. Those of us crazy enough about food screamed to stop the bus! In minutes, clad with cameras, we were in the middle of the madness. Imagine the scene, burlap blankets scattered on the ground piled high with guava and amla, the Indian gooseberries. Vendors crouched on their haunches prepared to sell. The smell of guava permeated the air. Almost too sweet to keep smelling. Only men, not a single women. All eyes, every single one, were on us. No longer was selling fruit the spectacle. I took out my camera on the sly. I didn't want to act like a National Geographic photographer but honestly they would have killed for the shots.. As soon as I opened the viewfinder, I had hoards of men and boys around me like a magnet . And what I didn't understand is that they don't want to steal my camera, they wanted to see themselves in the screen. Thank God for digital cameras. I'm shooting furiously and as soon as I'd take the shot I's show them the image of themself. It's was a frenzy. I had masses around me. I moved through the market and they'd move with me. We started to leave and the swarm, like bees, left with us. The further away from the market we got, the smaller the swarm until finally I had one final stragler, a 8-year old boy who was next to me as I got ready to get on the bus. Just then he said to me, "Pen?'". Then I remembered the guide books and how the kids love pens. I search my purse and found one. In the process I find a Hersey's Chocolate Kiss. I hand him the pen and the Kiss. He shoved the pen in his pocket. He looks at the chocolate kiss wrapped in foil. He makes a gesture like popping the whole thing in his mouth. I can't help but think about aluminum foil against my teeth and I cringe. NO, NO, take the foil off first! I show him how. Cautiously he puts it in his mouth. I wait. One second, then two. He looks almost scared. Finally a smile comes over his face as the chocolate melts in his mouth. His first experience eating chocolate!

Monday, April 28, 2008

loving taj

How do I know that I want a book of postcards if I haven't seen the site yet? We got off the bus and headed towards a place I'd always dreamed about. Postcard salesmen were everywhere. I dodged them going in and out of their maze. I know their tricks now. I don't even glance in their direction. And finally we were inside the gates. Ahhh yes,-- quiet, peace, tranquility. We headed towards the arch that will divide my life between the moment before I first saw the Taj Mahal and the moment after. I waited in the darkness of the arch for a moment, eyes closed, trying to collect my thoughts. Somehow I knew this would forever change me. I took a step towards light and a deep breath. I opened my eyes and before me was something my dreams are made of. The most elegant female form of architecture I had ever laid eyes on, the TAJ. I had seen photos and travel clips so many times before in my life but nothing could touch the reality of her magnificence. Tears welled in my eyes. Yes, pinch me, I'm in India and this white marble homage of love is before me. Emperor Shah Jahan had it built as a mausoleum for his beloved wife who died giving birth to their 14th child. This is true testament that yes, Allah, there is true love! (And now my dear Jehuda, I have found it!)

Monday, April 21, 2008

india first class

I hate getting up early but we had to. Suvir insisted that in order to see India, we needed to take a train. After getting home from KaKa's party where I danced with the eunuchs until well into the night, getting up at 4:30 AM, with just 3 hours sleep, is just not civilized. And imagine the train station. It made Penn Station look and feel like a walk in the park. People sleeping everywhere. We stepped over bodies tangled on the floor to the platform and stood with the beggars until the train arrived. We were lucky... First class! And even luckier, we were traveling luggage-less. (The bus went head of us with all the luggage.) On board we found our way to the first class car which meant we sat on orange plastic-padded rock-hard seats with air conditioning that was nothing more than a rotary fan set on high. We were happy we all had our own seats next to men in rumpled business suits and quasi-hip Indians attached to cell phones like lifelines. And luckier not to be packed tightly into economy with screaming kids and chickens in cages. The service put American Airlines to shame. A biscuit was served by the Indian train equivalent of a grouchy flight attendent but la piece de resistance,-- deep-fried vegetable cutlets and cold, soggy french fries. Tough to resist this 6:00 AM breakfast but I just couldn't get it past my lips. By 8:30 AM, we were in Agra, and headed for breakfast and the unparalleled Taj Mahal.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

dancing with eunuchs

"What are you wearing tonight Joanne?" Suvir asked. The bus tried to make it's way to KaKa's house but after a while, we had to give up. The road was too narrow, the tree limbs too low, the bus too big. We had to walk. Here we were, a tribe of fourteen hobbling along in Prada heels and Armani slacks held up with Gucci belts , led by a turban-clad Indian wrapped in an ivory sari through the tiniest village. It was really dark, the town lit by a little sliver of moon. The villagers stared as we made our way along the dirt road dodging cows, dogs and hungry kids. The village eyes were on us. I caught them again and again. As much as I was interested in them, so too, they were interested in us. Around one last corner, our guide unfolded his hand to show us the entrance. Ahhhh.... Sanctuary. We had arrived for dinner at the home of KaKa, Suvir's friend. KaKa met us in the courtyard wearing a red turban and wrapped in a saree all gilded with gold. To paint an even better picture, this raging queen is a friend of Paul Smith and Missoni. He's a designer, surprise, surprise! And the house was magnificent. From ground up, he built it over a 3 years with antique pieces and artifacts. Chosen by Elle Decor and Architectural Digest as one of the top 10 homes in the world. So imagine! Hundreds and hundreds of candles, thousand year old columns, red rose petals, inlaid tiles, marble, incense and white-gloved waiters dying for me to be their passage to America. We ate kebabi, hot from the tandoor, and so rich with fat that they melted in my mouth along with the tart and spicy mango pickle and fresh mint chutney. All kinds of hot breads: naan to paranthe, poori and roomali and of course, curries and dahl, and all kinds of meats cooked in the tandoori. The night was magical with a turn toward the bizarre when four eunuchs arrived to dance for us. My God, have I been living under a rock!!! A eunuch is a castrated man, at times thought to bring good luck. Music blasted as we chewed betel nut and watched the eunuchs dance one by one in "sexy" silver bras and sheer gauzy black sari skirts with bangles from their wrists to their elbows and tingling bells at their ankles. They twirled around the floor. The movements at times sensual, at times aggressive. They pulled me onto the floor to dance. Why me? Did they see me tapping my foot? I didn't know if I waas dancing with a man or women? This was the closest I'd come to sex in a while. Ah, this is India....

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

oyster heaven

Last day of March, bundled up in a big winter coat walking through the South End, I thought if it weren't for the weather, I could live in Boston again. Boston's getting better and better. We'd seen Doe, my book agent, Saturday night for a little "tequila research" and she asked if I was a Barbara Lynch fan? I wasn't sure how to answer! She said I had to eat at B & G Oyster Bar on my way out of town Monday. Yes, open for lunch. No reservations! All set! I loved B & G the moment I walked through the door. Basically a long grey marble bar lined with crisp white napkins and wine glasses. Immediately I thought "This is the kind of restaurant I wanna have." Sixteen different varieties of impeccably fresh oysters, lots of them from the icy cold local waters. I settled on a cool dozen, -- four Island Creek from Duxbury, very plump and briny with a sweet buttery flavor, known as the oyster that never spawns and my personal favorite! Four large, exceedingly salty Pemaquid from Maine and 4 Ninigrets from the Salt Ponds of Rhode Island. Smooth with an underlying sweetness and a pleasantly mild salinity that defies their Salt Pond upbringing. A glass of crisp Petit Chablis. Call it heaven! Oyster heaven!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

boston, you're my home!

Seven hour flight last night Boston to SF? Gotta love those head winds! They weighed my bags but not me, thank God. Few pounds heavier due to non-stop eating in Boston. Damn... I took my camera out to take a shot at Galleria Umberto on Hanover Street in the North End and wouldn't you know it, my battery was dead. I love that place. It's a gymnasium of Formica and hammered metal that can only be topped by the all marble Antica Focacceria in Palermo, Sicily! I wanted to show you the arancini (humongous deep fried rice ball filled with beef and creamy cheese) and the waxed-paper cups of gutsy red vino. Same guy working there serving up thick slabs of pizza, panzarotti and arancini (truly the size of a large orange) since I lived in Boston in the late 70's. He looked exactly the same, only a few extra slabs of pizza under his belt. Who am I to talk? For eight bucks, three of us had the best nostalgic lunch! You've gotta go! No photo but you've got the map!

Friday, March 7, 2008

a boy named suvir

So who was my tour guide as I wondered around India with Gary? Let me tell you a little bit about Suvir... Born in New Delhi to a diplomatic Dad and academic historian Mom, I don't think he's ever done a stitch of housework, driven a car or mailed a letter in his life. He's lived with servants his whole life. Suvir is gay, so outwardly gay that he's accepted in India. As he puts it, "In India, if you are honest, you are accepted. One's choices are accepted as one's destiny in a country where karma reigns supreme." There is always their next life, he says with a smile and a twinkle in his eye. He is extremely bright, very quick and extraordinarily funny. You know me, I've always loved gay men so it's an easy wing to be under. Suvir Saran came to America in 1991 to study. While in college, his parents made him get a job 3 days a week to learn "American ways." He worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a clerk in the MET Shop. On the third day of his new job and life in America, he waited on Bill Clinton. To Suvir, Bill Clinton represented everything he aspired to. They got along famously and as soon as Bill left the store, Suvir was promoted to buyer. Already he was living the American dream! Today, he is is the owner of Devi, a top Indian restaurant in Manhattan and a fantastic cookbook writer. Definitely one of the "boys club of chefs" in NY along with Jean Georges, Mario, Eric, Cesare, Daniel... Suvir is the Indian version. And I'm lucky to be seeing India through those Indian eyes.

buy my postcards

The India saga continues in an historical direction at the Red Fort in Old Delhi... We had about 50 yards between getting off the bus and the entrance gate of the Red Fort, the primary residence for the raj dating from 1632 and at one time, an opulent palace. Mobs of Indians, mostly men and boys, were hanging around the entrance. I tried to wade through the crowd heading towards the gate. A little boy, probably seven years old, catches my eye and my gait. He's got a stack of postcards and he's shuffling them in my face for attention. "Madam, Madam, buy my postcards!". I don't look at him. I'm no dummy, I've read the travel books. "Madam, Madam, good quality!". What does this little seven year old kid know about quality postcards? He's never stepped foot outside Old Delhi. Chances are he's never stepped foot outside this one square block. He runs at my side. He has to work quickly, we are halfway to the gate and he knows once we go through the gate to the other side, his pitch is over, the sale has to be made. I'll be inside and he'll always be on the outside. "Madam, buy my postcards, pleeease." I know that my rupee might be the difference between eating today or not. "Careful!" he says, as he helps me up the curb. "Careful, Madam" as he helps me down the other side. He has just a few steps to go to close the deal. "Madam, please, oh pleeeeease! When you come back, I be here, pleeeeeease." I glance quickly into his warm brown eyes. So much comes up in my heart. "Madam, buy my postcards when you come out." One step away from the gate. A final plea,"Madam, PROMISE!? Look in my eyes. Look in my eyes! Promise me?!" My head is reeling. We are torn apart at the gate. I paid the entrance fee and I was inside. I turned around and he was there, his brown little fingers wrapped around the chain-link fence, his big brown eyes pleading with mine. He pleads one last ime, "Pleeeease!". As I walked around Red Fort, I thought about that little boy again and again-- his eyes and those little fingers clutching. How did he get into my soul? Gary and I walked and talked and toured the Red Fort for more than an hour. Heading towards the exit and the chain-link fence and gate, I couldn't help but look for my little postcard salesman. Outside and on the street again, I looked around but all the little boys looked alike-- plaid frayed shirts, dusty baggy pants held up by one button, barefeet, scruffy hair, dirty hands and feet. And then I spotted him, shuffling through his postcards saying to a women with a camera slung across her shoulder, "Madam, look in my eyes. PROMISE!?" I had some rupees in my hand and he didn't even see me.

Monday, March 3, 2008

truffles in march?

It's not truffle season but I'll tell you how you can get pretty close! There's nothing like white truffles shaved onto a plate of homemade tajarin in October in the Piedmonte. And what about the baked eggs with truffles and cream at Osteria del'Arco in Alba. Oh, and they also make an unbelievable roasted onion filled with the creamiest fonduta. At the last minute, they shave a bunch of white truffle onto the top! Yup, I like fresh truffles a lot. One year I even went truffle hunting with Martino and his two dogs but that's a whole other story. I remember a few years ago my friend, Judy Francini, arrived from Florence bearing a small jar of truffle flour. The way she handed it to me, I knew it was special. I added a few tablespoons to fresh homemade pasta and tossed it with wild mushrooms and lots of Parmigiano Reggiano. I liked the truffle flour but I have to tell you, I am lost on truffle "products" like dried pasta flavored with truffles, truffle oil, truffle butter, cheese scented with truffles. Usually I just wait to have fresh truffles in Ocotber in the Piedmont! Last weekend was a big surprise... I went to visit some good friends and students of mine, John and Sandy, at Calistoga Ranch. It was a stormy, grey day, a perfect day for lunch inside by the fire. We started with an earthy mushroom soup accompanied by a wreath of the crustiest bread, a tub of Strauss Family Creamery organic sweet butter and some Dean And DeLuca truffle salt. I took the top off the salt and was blown away by it's full, heady aroma and I realized that I was about as close as I was going to get on a March day in Napa Valley to a Piedmonte truffle. I tore off a piece of bread, loaded it with creamy butter and sprinkled the lot with trufffle salt. Honest to God, it was over the top washed it down with a glass of Duckhorn Paraduxx red. And it's only March!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

prosecco love

Biondivino was so packed that people spilled onto Green Street. Ceri Smith, our little Italian gemola of SF, had invited the world, in true Italian style, to celebrate her niece's wedding. Her niece was married on Maui last week so this was kind of an after-party. The prosecco flowed. Not just any prosecco, Col de' Salici! And none other than Saverio Notari was pouring!!!! I am an admitted prosecco addict. Don't get me wrong, I love a good glass of Champagne but for prosecco, I'd drive a long way. For years, I'd dreamed of going to Valdobbiadene, the beautiful little hilltop village in the province of Treviso, completely dedicated to prosecco production. I knew that the closest I would ever get would be when I was teaching at La Foresteria just outside of Verona in the Veneto. That's still 2 1/2 hours away. So this past year I talked my student into making the trip with me! (It wasn't hard!) Once we passed the exit for Venice, we still had at least an hour to go. But it was worth it.... The afternoon was spent visiting my friend Cinzia at Le Vigne di Alice, who makes the most delicious prosecco. Funny, her husband also produces fantastic prosecco at Belinda, the adjoining vineyard. Prosecco is a white grape grown exclusively in this part of Italy. I love it served ice cold on a hot day. And when mixed with white peach juice, prosecco adds a bit of spritz to the famous bellini, made famous at Harry's Bar in Venice. Prosecco also stars, along with a ton of vodka, in the most deceptive lemon milkshake called sgroppino.


2 cups vanilla ice cream
1 1/2 cups lemon sorbet
3/4 cups lemon juice
2/3 cup vodka
1/2 cup prosecco

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and process until it is a thick creamy shake. Drink with caution!

Serves 8

Monday, February 25, 2008

india revisited

Looking through photos and writing about India for "blog virgin" dredged up a bunch of memories of my trip with my best chef friend, Gary. I remember distinctly the first night, like it was last night. I was pecking away in the middle of the night in the hotel room, the only light in the room was the screen of my Treo. I didn't want to wake up Gary but I was suffering the worst jet lag. Melatonin is no miracle. Maybe it was the excitement of the day riding around Delhi in an auto-rickshaw, really nothing more a mo-ped with a cart on the back. Totally scary! Totally wild! Totally fun! Crazy, old congested city, Indian music blaring from a boom box attached to the top of a telephone pole, breathing in all that pollution, women wrapped in those colored saris (what a great way to hide any weight gain!) Old Delhi makes Bangkok look like a sleepy village. And the food doesn't taste like any Indian food I've eaten in the US. And are they saying yes or no when they twirl their head around like that? As soon as any waiter hears that Gary has a restaurant, they are all over him hoping they can score an airline ticket to the States. He thinks they're cute. And me, I'm just trying to eat lunch. Yeah, its third world alright. Everybody wants to sell you something. "Indian music, you want?" "I make you beautiful sari madam." Sometimes I can't understand a word they're saying... Is this English? It seems like one long curly word. And jet lag is a killer... I don't get it... 13 AND A HALF hour time difference between SF and New Delhi! Come on, what's the point of the extra half hour? The difference between Manhattan and Trenton? Make it either 13 or 14! Its almost morning, this sleep thing is not working for me! I am so hungry. What do Indians eat for breakfast? Gotta go, I think Gary just opened his eyes.

Friday, February 22, 2008

blog virgin

So I've talked about this for over two years.... It all started when I was on a sweaty, hot bus driving around the countryside of Rajasthan in Northwestern India with my pal, Gary Danko. The roads were bumpy and dusty and I was really queasy. It didn't matter. Every day I'd get out my Treo to read my emails and I'd write back these lengthy stories to everybody about the food, the people, the Taj, all the while pecking away on that tiny keyboard for hours just to get the message across. When I got back, all my friends were talking about the trip like they'd been there and one after another said, "You should do a blog." "Blog this!" I thought. But the word kept ringing in my ears.... blog, blog, blog. Same thing happened a year later in Vietnam. Eating on the street with Bobby Chinn, Hanoi's food rock star, zooming through the streets of Hanoi at a thousand miles an hour on the back of a scooter and I just kept writing emails, long emails (but not while I was on the back of the scooter, mind you). And my friends kept begging me. You might call me a blog virgin but here goes...